Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964)
Article #1400 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-13-2005
Posting Date: 6-12-2005
Directed by Nicholas Webster
Featuring John Call, Leonard Hicks, Vincent Beck

Martians decide to kidnap Santa Claus in order to fight a wave of despondency amongst the Martian children.

Nothing is harder than to review a movie whose reputation precedes it, especially when the reputation is largely justified. It’s even harder when the movie has been adaquately covered elsewhere and you’re in the position of trying to find something new to say. Still, you’ve got to make the best of it, so here goes.

Is this the worst movie ever made? No, it isn’t; in fact, it’s not even the worst Christmas movie ever made. It is the one, however, which most blatantly calls attention to itself by dint of its title. Yet, I don’t have any real problem with the central concept; it’s jarring at first, but a movie about Santa Claus or Martians requires a suspension of disbelief anyway. If you buy one, it’s not too tough to buy the other.

I honestly like two touches in this film. The initial confusion of the Martians about the plethora of Santas on earth is clever and amusing, and giving the Martians a form of affectionate greeting (they touch foreheads) shows more creativity than you might expect.

Still, even if it isn’t the worst Christmas movie ever made, it’s not for lack of trying. Here are my choices for the ten worst things about this movie.

1) The Martian makeup isn’t fun. It’s ugly, greasy and too dark.

2) The musical soundtrack. Especially the blaring horns that try to punctuate certain scenes.

3) The incessant use of stock footage during the first half of the movie. This movie actually moves at a fairly decent pace, but the stock footage always grinds things to a complete halt.

4) The fight scenes. This movie may have the single worst fight scenes of any that I’ve seen. In particular, the fight scene between Voldar and Kimar in the spaceship is truly embarassing.

5) The polar bear costume. The less said about this, the better.

6) The performances of the child actors. Yes, Pia Zadora plays the little Martian girl, but she comes off better than either of the two kids who play the earth children. There are times where I can practically see the cue cards the boy is reading from.

7. The comic relief. Yes, it’s easy to target Dropo, but his comic relief character comes with the territory, and he does at least show the ability to fade in the background when he’s not supposed to be the center of attention. No, the worst offender here is the accomplice of Voldar’s that looks like Jamie Farr. His mugging is incessant even in scenes where he’s not supposed to be the focus of attention, an act which is known as upstaging. No wonder Voldar deals him some otherwise unprovoked blows to the head; he was probably getting on his nerves.

8. The scene where Santa turns Torg into a toy. I’m not sure how this scene was supposed to work, but I do know that it doesn’t.

9) The ski in the storage room. This prop seems so out of place in its environment that it calls an inordinate amount of attention to itself even before it is used by one character to disarm another.

10) And finally, Santa’s laugh. John Call actually doesn’t give a bad performance of Santa, but his laugh really needed work. It’s not jovial; it’s just plain creepy.

So, what is the worst Christmas movie ever? Believe me, friends, we don’t want to go there.

Inspirational Quote: “My finger isn’t tired.”

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